Foxalicious Fundamentals: Concealer 103 (undereye circles)

By Voxy  

Today’s Topic: Concealer 103 — Using Concealer to Cover Undereye Circles

This is the other reason that concealers were sent down from heaven. I’m going to try not to ramble much here and cut to the main essentials.

You will need:

— Concealer brush.

— Cream or stick concealer. In this post I am using the Laura Mercier Secret Concealer (cream) and the Cover Girl CG Smoothers concealer (stick). I did not go through the exercise of covering undereye circles with the rest of my concealers because these will give you the idea and they are also the best ones for me to use.

— Your fingers.


The following photos go step-by step through the process. I have not fully figured out how to take good photos of myself to show products, so the photos don’t all quite have the same exposure or angle. Also, I realized that the lights were at a horrible angle for this, but oh well. I am still learning. I will also admit that I did do one little bit of retouching — my eyes happened to be fiercely red today, so I took some of that out so that you weren’t distracted by it. (No, I wasn’t smoking anything; this is an ongoing issue for me.)

1. Start with clean and moisturized skin. See? Circles. Yucky.

2. Apply primer and foundation, if you use those things.

3. Using your concealer brush, dot some cream concealer in the inner corner of the eye and extend it down into the circle area. Here I’m applying concealer to the right eye (and this was taken in a mirror, so that actually is my right eye) and leaving the left alone so you can see the difference. (I seem to be cross-eyed here for some weird reason.)

4. Blend out the concealer with your brush and then blend the edges lightly with your fingers so that you get an even transition.

5. Do the other side (here I did the left eye with CG Smoothers).

So now both undereye areas have been treated. Since the Pan-Cake makeup look has not been in vogue for some time, it’s usually not a good idea to try to keep applying concealer until you have totally covered the darkness. This is what makes people look like they have reverse raccoon eyes. In this set of photos, I still have a tiny bit of darkness under there; most days my circles are not this bad, and most days I’m not sticking my face in a tungsten light tent either. This is invisible in the light in my bathroom, in natural light, and in the light in my office.

The other part of making dark circles less noticeable involves putting them in the context of stronger features.

6. Here I’ve added brow color and eyeliner — I’ve only done the top; you’ll see the full eyeliner in a minute. Just doing this helps define the features more and make me look a little more put-together, even without eyeshadow.

7. In this step I added a neutral eyeshadow (this is ULTA shadow in Cocoa), lined the bottom lash line, and added mascara. I think it was around this picture that I realized I should also probably finish putting on my foundation — I had originally only put it on under the eyes).

8. Just for kicks, I decided to smoke out the eye a little bit. I used a LORAC charcoal gray/black pencil to bring the dark color of the eyeliner up towards the crease, added a dark purply-brown shadow in the crease, and used a light neutral shadow as a highlighter right under the brow. I don’t have those shadow names because they’re from my Smashbox palette and they’re unnamed. I set the whole face with Make Up For Ever HD powder, which gives a nice soft focus (a review of this product is going up tomorrow).

Key points in shopping for undereye concealers:

1. Go for a cream (in a pot, not a tube) or a stick concealer. Liquid concealers are too thin, and powder ones can easily cake and look kind of gross. You can (and should) use a setting or finishing powder to remove any residual shine from a cream concealer after you have blended everything in thoroughly.

2. Choose a color that is about one shade lighter than your skin tone. Do not get a super-ultra-light concealer if you are olive-skinned, no matter how dark your circles are!

3. Apply only where your circles are. In the above photos I was done blending out the concealer by the time I reached the center of the eye; I applied no concealer to the outer eye area. Since fine lines and wrinkles start showing up at the outer corners of the eyes first, it’s better to avoid putting concealer there unless your circles actually extend that far. If your whole undereye area is darkened, you might want to check out a corrector in either a yellow, salmon, or pink shade (depending on the color of the circles and the color of your skin; you’ll have to try a few to see what works best on you) that would go on before foundation. You could then use a less pigmented concealer on top if you find that you still need some coverage.

4. Blend well. Start with the brush and blend out the edges with your fingertips. The warmth of your skin helps melt the concealer enough to get a really smooth transition. Conventional wisdom is to use your ring finger, as it is a weak finger for most people and thus you’re less likely to pull the skin harder than you need to. I say use whatever finger you want, because I think you’re probably smart enough to figure out how to control the pressure you exert.

5. As with blemishes, less is better than more — something that looks natural but still shows a little darkness is better than something that is so opaque it looks like you put it on with a trowel and you can’t see the skin tone underneath it.

6. Covering up undereye circles can sometimes give you a little bit of a masklike appearance, especially if the coverage is thick. Drawing attention to other strong features, even by just using a little bit of eyeliner or brow color, helps prevent this.

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  1. avatar Shelly
    Posted May 3, 2010 at 6:32 pm | Permalink | Reply

    This might be a novice question. Does a cream/stick concealer work effectively with a mineral foundation? Specifically Bare Minerals.

    Great demonstration. The photos really helped.


    • avatar Voxy
      Posted May 5, 2010 at 10:26 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Not a novice question at all! The answer is yes, but you might find it works better for some things than for others.

      Since the usual order of applying products is cream/stick -> liquid -> powder, the ideal way to use a cream/stick concealer with a powder foundation would be as an undereye concealer that you apply before putting the powder on.

      If you want something for blemishes, you might have a little more trouble, because the powder foundation may want to cling more to the cream concealer stick than to your face, so it is possible to dab a concealer stick on your face and actually pull away some of your mineral foundation. If this happens, you can re-powder the spot after application using a teeny tiny amount of mineral foundation applied with the smallest and lightest possible brush. (Fan brushes are good for this.)

      On days that I wear my Bare Minerals foundation, I also use their concealer powder for all of my concealing needs *except* undereye circles. There I use a cream, and do apply it first.


  2. avatar a biologist
    Posted February 11, 2010 at 12:19 am | Permalink | Reply

    My First Trip to Sephora
    It’s been a week since my first trip to Sephora. I kept putting it off because I was afraid of getting the hard sell and coming out with $150 of stuff that I wouldn’t wear and didn’t know how to use. I didn’t want to get scolded for not wearing makeup or for improper skin care. I was also nervous because it is the one store in the mall where all the women going in and out look chic and polished and put together. I feel decidedly frumpy when I pass the store. My daily makeup routine pre-Sephora was usually just chapstick. After discussion here, and some—okay, a lot—of online browsing, I chose two products from the Laura Mercier line to try, a tinted moisturizer and an undereye concealer. I planned to go after work on a weekday so the store wouldn’t be as crowded.

    The big day arrived. What to wear? Should I wear makeup? Will I get the stink eye from the salesclerks for being hopelessly un-beautified? Finally I chose a crisp white button down shirt, but skipped makeup for ease of product testing. I felt better if I thought of it as a research experience. I have done much scarier things for Science than walk into a store full of glamazons. My white shirt was a stealth lab coat.

    As I entered I was immediately overwhelmed. Dazzling lights were reflected from mirrors on seemingly every surface, but the lighting was somehow also a little dim. The store was three times bigger than I thought it would be, and there were rows and rows of products organized by brand. I tried to quickly find the Laura Mercier section, but I walked through the store twice and couldn’t find it. Green and purple Urban Decay eye shadows screamed for my attention. Sparkly makeup boxes and posters of models with elaborate makeup distracted my eye from the shelf labels. There were also rows of “All Natural” products with Body Shop-esque packaging. Several shoppers were being made up by saleswomen, with a girlfriend or two watching intently. Maybe I should have brought a friend. I was the frumpy one with no friends who couldn’t find Laura Mercier even though every shelf was clearly labeled at eye level. Quelling rising panic, I asked one of the women with tool belts full of makeup brushes if they have Laura Mercier. She smiled pleasantly and walked me over to the shelf, which was right next to the entrance. She said she was “with someone” but if I could wait a few minutes she would send someone over to help me. I sagged with relief . . .


    • avatar Voxy
      Posted February 11, 2010 at 12:36 am | Permalink | Reply

      Ooooh! This is fabulous! Can I repost it as part of a blog entry (by you, of course)? I think people would love to read it, since there are plenty of others here who are Sephora-phobic! I love it!


      • avatar a biologist
        Posted February 11, 2010 at 12:44 am | Permalink | Reply

        Certainly! I’ll email you the rest of the review.


  3. avatar a biologist
    Posted February 2, 2010 at 8:15 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I finally made the trip to Sephora! Bravely, I ventured into the dazzling store with all those chic women going in and out. . .

    Long story short, I’m currently sporting one slightly yellower undereye and one slightly pinker undereye. I got the Tinted Moisterizer, which is making my skin feel wonderfully soft, and the Undercover Pot because I didn’t have any powder.


    • avatar Voxy
      Posted February 3, 2010 at 9:13 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Details! Details! I want to hear all about it!

      (No, seriously, I do! Tell the long version of the story!)


      • avatar a biologist
        Posted February 3, 2010 at 9:45 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Okay! I didn’t get a chance to try the concealer this morning, so I’ll post all about it after I’ve used the concealer myself and I know whether my story has a happy ending.


  4. avatar baz
    Posted January 30, 2010 at 9:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I soooo needed this!
    I’ll have to have my laptop on my makeup counter while I follow the steps.

    I also like the look of only the black eyeliner here.


  5. avatar a biologist
    Posted January 22, 2010 at 6:08 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks Voxy! This is really helpful!


    • avatar Voxy
      Posted January 24, 2010 at 3:20 am | Permalink | Reply

      Oh, good. I would hate to think that I’d posted pictures of my un-made-up self for nothing. ;) I’m glad that no one laughed at me!


      • avatar a biologist
        Posted January 24, 2010 at 11:50 pm | Permalink | Reply

        My undereye circles are much more purple! Perhaps after I get a little practice in with the new concealer I’ll take some before and after myself.

        It was very helpful to point out that making up your eyes helps distract from that “mask” look you get from undereye concealers–it was good to know that it isn’t my lack of skill. Of course the fully made up eye looked great, but is eyeliner (brown for me) and mascara (black) enough?


        • avatar Voxy
          Posted January 25, 2010 at 10:30 am | Permalink | Reply

          Oh, sure. Normally I don’t do a black eyeliner with a naked eye, like I did there (I’d do brown; more natural), but I already knew I was going to do a little bit of a smoky eye so I went with the black.

          My “no eye makeup” look is this: eyeshadow primer (always; prevents skin oiliness and keeps eyeliner in place), brown eyeliner, neutral eye shadow, and mascara. The neutral eye shadow takes two seconds and if it’s really close to your skin color then it’s pretty much impossible to screw up — I just swipe it into the crease and I’m done. Makes a huge difference, and people don’t think you’re wearing makeup.

          But I can’t stress enough the importance of a strong enough brow — I don’t know what your skin and hair color are, but you can see in the above pics that my brows aren’t dark enough on their own to provide any structure, so brow powder for me is a must in order to give my face definition (again, helping prevent the “mask” look).

          Yes, please to send before-and-after’s! If there are still things you don’t like, we can brainstorm how to do them differently.


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